JFBConnect v5.1 Preview - Google+ for Joomla and So Much More

The time is quickly approaching. Your website is ready for more Joomla social network integration with deeper social engagement tools from more network providers, and JFBConnect will be delivering later this month and throughout the rest of this year. Later this August, a major release for JFBConnect will be available with Google+ integration, greatly improved sharing options, a simpler interface, and a whole lot more.

Google+ for Joomla

We've heard your requests, and we're excited to announce that Google+ authentication will be incorporated into the JFBConnect v5.1 release. Expect the same level of integration already provided with our Facebook implementation, including:

  • Customizable profile import into 3rd party extensions, like JomSocial, Community Builder, Kunena, Virtuemart and more (see picture below).
  • One-click or form-based registration. You decide whether your users can choose a username and passord, or have it created automatically for a faster registration experience.
  • Automatic 'linking' of Google+ users to their already existing Joomla account.

JFBConnect51-Profile-Configuration

Less Configuration, More Features

Yup, you read that right. We've gone over our administrator area with a very big magnifying glass. In addition to a whole new, much better looking interface based on Twitter Bootstrap, we've re-arranged and consolidated many options. The new admin area provides all the same features that you want, while making it easier to find what you need.

Improved Administrator Control Panel

Improved Open Graph Actions

Open Graph Actions have been a huge draw for our users since we implemented them earlier this year. That implementation was limited and didn't provide all the features that Open Graph Actions make avaialble. With v5.1, that all changes.

Open Graph Action Capabilities in Joomla

The new Open Graph Actions configuration area will let you easily create buttons to be used on your site. When clicked, a user can create a message, tag their Facebook friends and even add a location for where they did something. The new popups also support the "Explicitly Shared" Open Graph Action option, which means that any shares using them will show up prominently in the user's Timeline.

open-graph-popup Open Graph Action Post

For Users and Developers

It has taken many months of planning and development to get us to this release point. Many pieces of JFBConnect have been re-built from the ground-up in order to make the addition of more social network providers a snap for us to add (and they are coming, see the roadmap below).

In addition to making social integration easier to configure for our users, we've implemented a vastly simplified API for fetching profile information about a user. Want a user's first name, last name, email address, gender and birthday? Here's all you need to do:

$fields =array('email', 'first_name', 'last_name', 'gender', 'birthday')
$profile = JFBCFactory::provider('facebook')->profile->fetchProfile('user id', $fields);

Want to get the same information from Google? Just update the word 'facebook' above to 'google', and there you go! The same interface will work for our Twitter and LinkedIn integration when it comes online later this year. 

How about getting a user's avatar for display somewhere else on your site?

$profile = JFBCFactory::provider('facebook')->profile->getAvatarUrl('user id');

It's that easy, and of course, there's lots more that's possible with our API.

If you're a developer that is currently integrating with JFBConnect, feel free to get in touch. We'd love to discuss the changes in more depth and/or test for any backward compatibility issues that may arise from the new release. 

Lots More

The above features are just the tip of the iceberg for this release. Also included is a new unified installer - No more installing multiple zip files to get all the features you want, new Facebook Shared Activity module and Facebook Share buttons, ...

What's Next?

Now that we've re-built our code with the intent of adding more social network providers, the short-list below is the major features coming with (currently) scheduled dates:

  • August 2013 - v5.1 - Google+ integration and everything else above
  • October 2013 - Twitter Authentication and Twitter modules/widgets 
  • End of Year - LinkedIn Authentication
  • End of Year+ - More social sharing and meta support for things like Twitter Cards
  • End of Year+ - New Google+ "Interactive Posts"

You may have noticed LinkedIn authentication above and be curious about our plans for JLinked. When we add LinkedIn integration to JFBConnect, we will be discontinuing our JLinked extension. We'll continue to support the last release for those that don't want to update for some time. For those users with Social Bundle or JLinked subscriptions, don't worry, you'll be treated well during the transition :)

Alex Andreae

Alex co-founded SourceCoast Web Development in 2008. Based in sunny Florida, SourceCoast develops extensions for integrating your Joomla powered website with popular social networks. He has spoken at more than a dozen Joomla User Groups and Joomla Days, including the Joomla World Conference in both 2012 and 2013. Topics have included social networking for Joomla, running a business around Joomla extensions, and Joomla development.


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